Curran's knee-jerk reactions to Day 1 of free agency

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Curran's knee-jerk reactions to Day 1 of free agency

1. The Patriots traditionally tread lightly at the start of free agency. Last season was an exception. But the compressed offseason was a big reason for that as New England grabbed Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. When the Patriots signed Rosevelt Colvin and Rodney Harrison back in 2003, both were brought aboard nearly a week after free agency opened. Adalius Thomas? He was signed the day after free agency opened. Clearly, the Patriots tend to let the water settle a bit in most cases.

2. Speaking of Adalius Thomas, the contract given to Seattle defensive tackle Red Bryant on Tuesday was the same as the one AD signed back in 2007 - five years and 35 million. Bryant got 14.5M guaranteed; Thomas got 20M.

3. Suffice to say this Tuesday didn't make it any easier on the Patriots when it comes to getting Wes Welker a new contract by July 15. Vincent Jackson got a five-year, 55.5M deal from the Bucs with 36M coming to him in the first three years. Pierre Garcon got five years and 42.5 million with 20.5 guaranteed. Marques Colston got five years and 40 million. Former Niners wideout Josh Morgan got a five-year deal that could convert to a two-year, 12 million deal. In other words, players who haven't been as productive as Welker are getting 8 million per with 20M or more guaranteed. It makes the ballpark figure of four years, 32 million with 20M guaranteed for Welker seem that much more reasonable a request. It could make him seek even more.

4. Brandon Lloyd, meanwhile, has gone to radio silence. Given the fact the Patriots like to do their business verrrry quietly - and that's a request they make of players they're speaking with - the less you hear from and about Lloyd, the more likely he is to be in talks with New England. And what will he and agent Tom Condon agree to becomes clouded as well with similar players getting 8 million per season.

5. Given the number of wideouts the Redskins have signed or gone after - Garcon, Morgan and Eddie Royal - it would seem that Jabar Gaffney is going to be on the outside looking in down in Washington. An effort by the Patriots to bring back "Jab", one of Tom Brady's preferred targets, seems quite likely.

6. Adam Carriker, who seemed a really nice, versatile fit on the defensive line for the Patriots didn't even get out of the Redskins sight. He was re-signed to a four-year 20M deal with 7 million guaranteed.

7. Michael Lombardi of NFL Network is very close with Bill Belichick. His information is solid. He tweeted that the Patriots are close to a new deal with special teams ace Matthew Slater and are working a "few other deals." One of them was with special teamer Niko Koutouvides. His agent confirmed for me a one-year deal worth the veteran's minimum of 850,000.

8. As they look around their division, the Patriots can't feel awful about what they see happening at this week. Brandon Marshall got dealt out of Miami. He only lit the Patriots up for 13 catches and 282 yards in two meeting in 2011. The Jets' aborted run at Peyton Manning wound up in a "sorry about that" extension for Mark Sanchez that led to "Sanchise" talking about how his new deal reminded everyone he was a team leader. And the Bills are about to pour their money into Mario Williams - a helluva player but the massive contract he'll sign is going to put strain on the whole team.

9. The Matt Flynn situation is going to get interesting. He's talking to the Browns and Dolphins. But the Dolphins are in on Peyton Manning still along with three other teams - Denver, Tennessee and Arizona. Will Flynn wait to see what happens with Manning before making his decision? And will the Browns, knowing that might be the case, give Flynn any ultimatum about an expiration date on their offer? Manning's timetable is going to continue to be the biggest story during this free agent period after this initial rush.

10. If you're the Browns and are content to make a run at free agent Matt Flynn - he of two NFL starts - and likely make him a fat offer, wouldn't you want to also consider a run at Brian Hoyer? A restricted free agent who can be had for a smaller contract and a second-round pick if he's lured away from the Patriots, Hoyer as an option that makes fiscal sense to me.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.